Today I opened Shurley English (book 2) to begin another lesson with my 3rd grade son and then I sat it aside with a “why bother” attitude. You know what happened? Yesterday during quiet reading time I curled up on the couch with John Holt’s essay, “How Teachers Make Children Hate Reading” from On Education. Reading something like that can be a dangerous thing. It can make you toss out jingles like: a sentence sentence sentence is complete complete complete when five simple rules it meets meets meets, in favor of five minutes of something new called free writing. I’d never done it with my third grader before and you know why? Because he doesn’t know all the words.
He doesn’t know a good many of the words that he knows even. But we did it anyway. He wrote, carefully sounding out each word and asking for help on just a couple. At the end he suggested we make it a real sentence and so he added a period then encouraged me to read it aloud. He was very proud. And I wondered why not knowing all the words held me back from letting him write.
Can I tell you something? My dearly beloved homeschooled kids don’t like to read.
They love to be read to. They beg to be read to. Even the big ones. They love to hear stories and listen to books on cds and can be motivated to read a book on their own and even enjoy it if it’s the right book. But they seldom pick up a book to read in the car for enjoyment like I do or stay curled up in a chair all afternoon because they just can’t put that Nancy Drew book down (like I did). It makes me sad. And I’m pretty sure I went horribly wrong during that painful tug of war time called teaching them to read.
I swear to set things right.
John Holt has encouraged me.